Walking is one of the easiest ways to stay active throughout the day. Sneak in more steps with these strategies.
There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy, especially if you’re retired. But too much sitting—whether you’re relaxing, reading a book, or watching TV—can do more harm than good.
The average adult sits six to eight hours per day, according to the American Heart Association. And adults 60 and up tend to sit about nine hours per day.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to stay active throughout the day. “Walking is one of the greatest fitness activities we can do as human beings,” says SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack. “It’s free. You don’t need equipment. You can do it anywhere with anyone. And it’s really effective.”
Five minutes of walking here and 10 minutes of walking there can really add up. Think of it this way: A 150-pound person burns about 100 calories by walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes. If you do that every day for a year, that’s about 36,500 calories—or 10 pounds.
No matter your fitness level, try these simple strategies to take more steps each day. If you’re a beginner, it’s smart to check with your doctor first.
1. Walk Around the House
Stuck at home? “Pop in a walking DVD, and walk in your living room for 10 to 15 minutes,” says Jessica Smith, a personal trainer and creator of the Walking for Weight Loss, Wellness, and Energy DVD. You can also find free walking workouts on YouTube. On nice days, you truly walk around the house—outside.
2. Make All Calls Mobile
“Make a pact with yourself that every call you take will be mobile—literally,” Smith says. “Pace in place or walk around while you chat.”
3. Take a Lap to Tidy
Cleaning house? Why not take a couple of laps all the way around, stopping in each room to straighten up? You’ll be able to cross a chore off your to-do list and burn calories at the same time.
4. Shop to Drop Pounds
Everyday errands are opportunities to move more. “If you are grocery shopping, take one or two laps around the outer aisles of the store before you grab a cart or basket,” Smith says. “You can scope out sales items and create a plan for more efficient shopping while sneaking in some extra steps.”
5. Stand in the Stands
Supporting your grandkids at their soccer match or softball game? Find some empty bleachers. “Cheer on the team by pacing in the stands instead of sitting,” Smith says. “You’ll offer more positive energy.” If you have pickup duty and are waiting at practice, walk up and down the sidelines.
6. Opt for Face Time Over FaceTime
When you can, skip email and text messages, and chat with your friends or coworkers the old-fashioned way. “Get up, walk to their desk, ask your questions, and walk back,” Smith says.
7. Pace as You Wait
Whether you’re waiting for the coffee to brew or a load of laundry to finish, walk around while you wait. Small space? Just march in place.
8. Take the Stairs
Skip elevators when you can. You can start off easy. This week, walk up or down just one flight of stairs, and take the elevator the rest of the way. Next week, try to walk up or down two flights of stairs.
9. Trek Around Town
Have a wide-open weekend? Why not head to a different part of town, and check it out on foot. You never know what you’ll discover walking that you might miss when traveling on four wheels.
10. Make Walking a Workout
For beginners and current exercisers, walking is a great workout. Start a routine with this free calendar. Just remember to limit sitting and stay active during the rest of your day too.
If you already have a walking routine you love, look for ways to keep it fun and challenging, Jack says. Reverse your route, or make it a walk-and-talk date with a friend. Or try different surfaces, like grass, a sidewalk, or a trail. Of course, safety always comes first. “If it’s uncomfortable for you, then it doesn’t work,” Jack says. Watch the video below for more great walking tips.